Henrik Pedersen loves rock music and has a tattoo of “Stray Cats” band on his body. But this one and 10 other tattoos are hidden under his suit because now Mr Pedersen is a very successful businessman. Gobel best sales person is one of his achievement. He works as a Sales Director at Exoft a Software Development Company with HQ in Lviv, Ukraine. He is goal at Exoft is to set up internal business processes and grow international sales. Now Henrik Pedersen is living in Lviv and enjoys his time here very much.
Foreigner in Lviv
I grew up in Denmark, it’s only 5 million people, a very small country. I grew up in the countryside, but I lived near city that is nearly the same size as Lviv, with also many old buildings. For me it’s like my second home. I really hope that I can stay here for a long time.
First time I was in Lviv it was 2014 because of the Jazz festival, which is amazing and I really loved the city. So when I got the chance to move and work here, I grabbed it immediately.
Lviv is an amazing city, I really really enjoy it. It’s a combination of everything: post-Soviet Union, old buildings, a city that is growing and most important for me - many people here are very friendly and very helpful compared to other places in Ukraine.
Now I live in Lviv and I work here. I wouldn’t say it’s easy but it’s not too hard either, you just have to adapt to Ukraine and Ukrainian mentality.
Ukrainians have a tradition of their way of doing business and in many ways it’s very successful.
In Denmark we’re faster, I would say. If we get an idea, then we act immediately. Here in Ukraine sometimes you have to sleep two or three nights. “Ok it’s a good idea, let’s think a little bit more and then 14 days later – Ok let’s do it”.
If you come as a foreigner and you want to create a company or maybe move a part of your company here, the best thing you could do is actually come here and spend time learning how the Ukrainians are. For when I hear companies come to Ukraine and they say “It’s not so good” – they didn’t study your mentality, they didn’t study how you live, they didn’t study how you work. They come in, they see they want to make a profit, then they put European or American ideals and things on top of Ukraine, which you’re not interested in. You’re Ukrainians so why should you change to work in an American company or a German company? You have your mentality. If they want to come and do business here, then they have to adapt to the Ukrainian way of doing business, if they can’t do that, than they will not have success. That’s simply my advice.
Changes in Ukraine
You have been through a lot: many wars, post-Soviet Union, different kind of rulers, so I think some people have some kind of inner stress that is a little bit hard to get rid of because of the past. The more stable Ukraine gets, the sooner this stress will go away and people become more relaxed. And when people become more relaxed, they go through life happier and more successful. And still a lot of things are going on in Ukraine, but anyway Ukraine is on the right track to be where people want it to be.
People have changed since I came here the first time. They became friendlier, very easy to communicate with. Before I felt people were a little bit closed: “Oh you’re a foreigner, I will keep my distance”, but now they are more interested in knowing me.
And also, there are a lot of new things: restaurants, local businesses grow. First when I came to Ukraine I never bought anything Ukrainian because it was of bad quality, but now one of my favorite brands is Arber. These are some amazing clothes made in Ukraine. Why do you not export it? It will be suitable for many other countries.
You should be very proud of what you have already achieved and what you’re going to achieve in the future. Big countries will be knocking on your door, because they will need your help. You have potential to be a very successful country.
The future of Ukrainian IT business
Ukraine has to be prepared to changes in IT business that will come over five to seven years. Many SW development companies will disappear, because there will not be room for them. Now Ukraine is the biggest IT country in Europe, but something will happen soon: a lot of smart people will sit down, have great ideas to develop software or programs, and they will start developing their own products instead of selling services.
And if you are not ready for the change that is going to happen in your company, then you will simply die out. Some big ones will endure, there will be some medium ones, and then there will be some small ones, maybe specializing in some areas, they will stay afloat, the rest will simply disappear.
I think in 5 years there will be 50 companies (out of 200 in Lviv), but then there will be other development companies, but developing not for others but for themselves and selling products around the world.
In product companies you have something that connects you as a group , because if you work in an outsourcing/outstaffing company, you work on different products, projects, and you don’t feel you are team even if you’re in the same company. But if you start working on something of your own, then you have your little baby that everyone will care for. And then everybody wants to be a part of this success. So that’s what I think is going to happen in the future here in the IT industry.